Sunday, February 28, 2010

Come and Be Healed by God, Our Anchor

Driving through any town you can’t help but notice strip malls. They are everywhere and you can find just about any sort of store in one from pet stores to insurance brokers and restaurants. And there is normally one very important element to every successful strip mall – the anchor. What makes strip malls work, or any malls for that matter, is the presence of a large store that draws customers into the parking lot. In fact, many small shops will not locate their business in a strip mall that doesn’t have some sort of anchor. The anchor can be anything, but the most common is a grocery store. Everyone needs groceries and even if they never think about the others stores that share the strip mall with their local grocery store, when a need for something comes up, subconsciously they know what stores are near the grocery store and suddenly they know exactly what stores they see every week while they are loading groceries into their trunk.

Just like strip malls, our life needs an anchor to succeed. Our life needs something around which to focus our attention. For many of us this anchor is our job simply because that is where we spend the majority of our time. But life can be different and will be different if we focus our life around a different anchor, just like small stores are different based upon the anchor store in a particular strip mall because the success of a particular anchor store attracts attention. It is only natural that our eye is drawn to parking lots filled with cars rather than vacant lots. We somehow know, intuitively, that a full parking lot means happy customers so every business benefits from a full parking lot.

This morning’s Gospel is about full parking lots, a successful anchor, and happy customers. Jesus, He’s the anchor, was preaching in a house that was full of people “so that there was no longer room even near the door.” (Mark 2.2) This crowd drew the attention of four men. These four men saw the crowd and knew something good must be happening so they carried their sick friend over to the house to be healed by Jesus but they couldn’t get inside because of the crowd.

It reminds me of a restaurant in Denver that we used to go to all the time. It was in a strip mall and was so successful you had to wait at least 45 minutes on any given night for a table…and they didn’t take reservations so you waited with the rest of the crowd seeing and smelling the delicious food being served all around you. By the time it was your turn for a table it was all you could do to contain yourself. If you could eat standing in the aisle you would have, the food was so good. It was amazing for sure.

So you can only imagine how amazing it must have been hearing Jesus Christ preach the word of God in that house that day. There was the excitement of a large crowd amplified by words that must have worth the wait for these four men…but they didn’t wait because they could not contain themselves. The Gospel says, “And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was and let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.” (Mark 2.4)

These four men must have known about the power of Jesus Christ because they refused to wait. Their friend was sick and needed to be healed. Word had spread about Jesus so much that people were coming from all directions to be healed by Him. These four men had great faith in the power of Jesus to heal their friend. “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’” (Mark 2.5) WHAT!? Forgive sins? The men wanted their friend to be healed! At least, that is what I would have thought, at that moment.

Do you see how Jesus Christ works so patiently while the four men acted so impatiently? Jesus knew He would heal the man, but first He took the opportunity to teach the others around him about the power of God. It’s almost as if Jesus says, “Hi, thank you for coming. How many are in your party? Five? You may wait over here? It should only be a few minutes.” After just a few moments, Jesus healed their friend, “and all were amazed and glorified God saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” (Mark 2.12)

Sometimes, like a good restaurant, we have to wait and be patient to receive God’s blessings. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Just because we have come to this Church this morning and placed some personal demands upon God, doesn’t mean He is forced to act upon our time frame. He is God after all! “Who are we to reply against God?” (Romans 9.20)

My brothers and sisters, just like in this morning’s Gospel, Jesus Christ has come into this house to preach the word of God. He is among us this morning in the Eucharist and has invited us and all people to come and spend some time with Him. His reputation precedes Him. We know from the Bible, the Church, and the Saints that He is full of mercy and compassion and that He will heal all those who are sick. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” (Mark 2.17)

Each one of us is in need of a doctor, some more than others, but each of us is sick and Jesus Christ, God Himself, has come to us to heal us. Do any of us have anxiety, let’s bring it to Him and He will calm our hearts. Do any of us feel depressed, let’s come to Him and He will lift our souls. Do any of us have physical pain, let’s come to Him and He will cure the pain that distracts us from loving Him. There is no problem too great for God to handle when we come to Him in faith.

Four men had the faith strong enough to bring one friend to Jesus Christ to be healed because He could not bring himself. My brothers and sisters, the faith of the Church is strong enough for us today. The faith of the Church has carried Orthodox Christians for 2000 years and it can carry us if we have the faith to allow it. The paralytic in this morning’s Gospel went willingly up on the roof to be healed. He was not forced by anyone and God will not force us. We just need to be patient and committed to God and He will heal us just like He healed the paralytic.

When we drive by strip malls we can’t help but see the signs inviting us into so we can purchase what we need. What we need is right here in God’s House. Come to God’s House and be healed! There is always room is God’s House for one more. Come to God’s House and take a moment to listen to the Word of God. Take a moment out of your busy schedule and come spend some time with God. Come to Him! He is here and He is waiting for you…just for you. Come!

1 comment:

Will said...

Excellent analogy. Thank you.